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Garcinia cambogia is a species of plant native to countries in South Asia, such as Indonesia. The rind of the small, pumpkin-shaped fruit is traditionally dried and used as a condiment or flavoring for curry dishes. It has also been used in Ayurvedic medicine to improve digestion. Recent studies have explored the possibility of using its extract containing the active compound called hydroxycitric acid (HCA) for weight loss.

Some studies claim that HCA may help suppress appetite, reduce carbohydrate metabolism, and enhance fat-burning, thus resulting in weight loss.

How Does it Work?

Garcinia cambogia is now being marketed alone or in combination with other ingredients to promote weight loss. After the results of animal studies suggested that its active ingredient can reduce appetite and lead to substantial body weight loss, clinical trials conducted in obese and overweight human subjects increased. Some studies have also suggested that it prevents the storage of fat from carbohydrate and encourages burning carbohydrates to energy.

Analysis of these studies however, have shown that results are conflicting and that many of them have shown that Garcinia did not produce significant weight loss or reduction in fat mass compared to that produced by placebo.

Experts in research have also found that there were flaws in some study designs which could reduce the significance of their findings. One of the latest systematic reviews on the use of HCA extracts from Garcinia cambogia as a weight loss supplement showed that although it may cause short-term weight loss in humans, the magnitude of this effect is small and of little clinical value. The authors of the review also found flaws in the methodology of the studies conducted and suggested that future trials must be more rigorous to be able to draw more relevant conclusions.

Side Effects of Garcinia cambogia

Many of the studies on the use of Garcinia cambogia for weight loss also reported some adverse events, such as headache, nausea, skin rashes, gastrointestinal tract and upper respiratory tract symptoms. One popular product called hydroxycut, a slimming pill that contained HCA was withdrawn from the market after the FDA warned consumers of its potential for serious side effects.

If you are planning to take weight loss supplements containing Garcinia cambogia or its extract, hydroxycitric acid, consult your doctor beforehand.

Some distributors of these weight loss products warn against taking the extract in diabetic patients, people suffering from Alzheimer's or other dementia syndromes, and pregnant or lactating women. These substances may also interact with drugs currently being taken by the consumer, such as medicines for high blood pressure.

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